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Thread: Proper choke?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2019

    Default Proper choke?

    With my new O/U (20 gauge), what is the recommended choke configuration? I’m using (lead) # 6 shot. I was thinking of Modified in the bottom barrel and Improved Modified in the top.

    Will this work? If yes, can I use the same with steel shot too?

    Thank you

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008


    Without knowing how your gun patterns I would say that combination would be good for a mid to late season combination on wild birds where long shots may be the order of the day, although I may switch to #5 shot late season. Steel patterns tighter generally thru the same choke as does lead, so possibly an IC/Mod or Mod/Mod. Of course this is all subjective without knowing how the gun patterns.
    Last edited by birdshooter; 01-01-2020 at 05:35 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Monroe Georgia


    I hunt with pointers and most of my shots are 30 yards and under most probably 20-25 yards

    Cylinder and improved cylinder 5s in the cylinder barrel 4s in the improved

    12 ga 1-1/8 oz at 1200 FPS

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Sioux Falls, SD


    Ideally, you'd pattern your gun/load/choke combinations & base your selection accordingly. This takes time, knowhow, & some money.
    If you don't plan to do that, then I'd recommend these starting points. You can start there, & if you do enough hunting & get enough shot opportunities, see what kills best for you & dial things in from there.
    These are based on my personal preference to be able to ethically take a 35-45 yard shot (assuming it's not a straight-away) because I can often make that shot & have a dog that will recover the bird.
    It's also based on the fact that I hunt w/ a flusher & would never have time, nor the wherewithal, to switch barrel selection.
    It's also based on my preference, as well as the generally accepted best practice, of shooting bottom barrel first, which seems to be inline w/ your approach.
    It's also based on my preference to choke 1 notch tighter with a 20 gauge than I would with a 16 or 12.
    And finally, the million dollar answer....MOD bottom & FULL top. Go IC bottom & MOD top with steel (#3 shot; #2 if you can't find 3's; never #4; at least 1,450 fps), assuming your "new 20 gauge" was built in the last 20 years.
    If you do plan to take the long shots, switch to 5's or even 4's. 6's aren't reliably sufficient for even a 30-yard straight-away, much less a longer shot.
    If you don't plan to take shots over 35 yards, IC bottom; MOD top. 6's are fine. With steel, CYL bottom; IC top; (3's or 2's; 4's as a last resort).
    "Most pheasants in South Dakota don't react too well to #5s." -The Hunt for Red Rooster

  5. #5


    Silver -- I agree with A5's above comments.

    I hunt with good dogs, so I often have a #6 lead load in for my first closer shot and a #5 lead load for my follow up shot, but if I had to use one load or when I'm blocking I use the #5 lead load. When I use steel, I do the same with the #3 and #2 loads.

    Here are some of my pattern numbers that I've posted before to give you an idea of how lead #6 and #5 loads and steel #3 and #2 loads perform in my gun/chokes!

    Patterns from a 20-gauge Browning Citori with 28" Invector-plus barrels and Briley flush chokes (patterns average of five, 30" post-shot scribed circle, yardage taped muzzle to target, and in-shell pellet count average of five).

    20 GA 2 3/4" RELOAD (BLUE DOT)
    1 oz #6 lead (233 pellets) 1200 fps
    30 YARDS – SK / pattern 147 (63%)
    30 YARDS – IC / pattern 168 (72%)
    40 YARDS – M / pattern 146 (63%)
    40 YARDS – IM / pattern 163 (70%)

    20 GA 3" RELOAD (BLUE DOT)
    1 1/8 oz #5 lead (190 pellets) 1220 fps
    30 YARDS – SK / pattern 140 (74%)
    30 YARDS – IC / pattern 149 (78%)
    40 YARDS – M / pattern 138 (73%)
    40 YARDS – IM / pattern 147 (77%)

    1 oz #3 steel (145 pellets) @ 1330 fps
    30 YARDS -- SK / pattern 114 (78%)
    30 YARDS -- IC / pattern 123 (85%)
    40 YARDS -- IM / pattern 106 (73%)
    40 YARDS -- LF / pattern 110 (76%)

    1 oz #2 steel (118 pellets) @ 1330 fps
    30 YARDS -- SK / pattern 101 (86%)
    30 YARDS -- IC / pattern 105 (89%)
    40 YARDS -- IM / pattern 99 (84%)
    40 YARDS -- LF / pattern 102 (86%)

    Good luck!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2017


    Remember that not every choke is OK for both lead and steel. Steel is a much harder material than lead and if you use it with a choke that is not designed for it you will damage the choke. My chokes indicate "Steel OK" if they are acceptable for a steel load (in addition to a lead load, since lead is much softer although it is much denser).

  7. #7


    When I used a stack barrel, 20 gauge, I shot ic, and modified, usually cheap lead #4.


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